Much as I respect the thinking of Ralph Reiland (see previous reflection), I am not yet laughing at critics of state power, like Lew Rockwell. It’s not that I favor incinerating Washington, D.C. – as nearly as I can tell, neither does Rockwell. I’m not laughing because I believe Rockwell has a good point: Ever-growing state power is a threat to me and to my country, and if we could dispense with it, we would all be better off.
Rockwell’s idea is an interesting, if not particularly original, thought experiment, of the sort that philosophers have long concocted to explore moral issues. (Yes, I know, the first passage that Reiland quotes from Rockwell suggests the contrary. But Rockwell is plainly using a rhetorical device.)
Rockwell’s conclusions seem inescapable, except that he overlooks an unfortunate fact. The federal government has plans to continue its rule if Washington were annihilated, and has infrastructure is in place to implement those plans. We don’t live in a George Lucas film where an attack on the Death Star will make the world safe.